If you've lived in the U.S. long enough, very likely you hear that napping during the work day is not acceptable. Our work ethic in this culture prohibits the midday nap that is a staple in many other countries. However, more people in this country are warming to the idea of a daytime power nap, as they find it allows them to keep focused and consequently, add to their productivity.
So what exactly is a power nap? It's a snooze time during the day that typically lasts between 10 and 30 minutes, often providing the napper with a refresh that allows them to be more alert and engaged. As you experiment with this, you'll figure out the time that works best for you. Be aware that the longer you nap, the more likely you are to enter what's called slow wave sleep which can leave you groggy for a bit upon waking.
Your decision to nap will depend on your schedule and how much sleep at night you are getting. If you are sleep deprived, you'll want to nap earlier in your day. If you do a typical midday lunch, you'll be prone to nap early afternoon when you are experiencing the post-lunch dip in your body's energy. The bottom line is that if you pay attention to when you are feeling sleepy, you'll discover when is best for you to take that power nap. Do watch out for napping too late in your day, as that can interfere with your overnight sleep.
You might be thinking, "But what about coffee? My boss frowns upon napping, so can't I just grab a cup of joe and move on with my day?" Yes, sort of. Caffeine will give you that initial alertness, but once it leaves your system, your sleepiness will likely come back. So rather than exposing yourself to the coffee jitters that come from cup after cup of the stuff (not to mention that too much caffeine can cause other health issues), taking a 10-minute snooze will more effectively reduce your overall desire to sleep. You also could do a combination, called the "caffeine nap." For this, drink a caffeinated beverage just before your power nap so that it's energizing effect will kick in after you wake up, providing that additional boost that might help you with the rest of your work day.
Power napping provides a number of benefits that include:
Increased alertness and reduced sleepiness
Improved cognitive function, memory and logical reasoning
Faster reaction time; and improved physical performance
And if you make napping a habit, you'll see these benefits increase as you improve your sleep schedule.
So, if you've convinced yourself (and hopefully your boss) about the power nap concept, you'll need to take time to create an ideal sleep space. This means finding a comfortable place, particularly temperature-wise, and avoiding disruptors to your sleep including noise and light. It's also best to avoid looking at any screens prior to sleeping as blue light is particularly disruptive, not to mention reading that "urgent" message that will linger in your brain instead of good rest.